- The Concept of Personality
Revealed Through The Pancanikaya
- Ven. Thich Chon-Thien
- Part Five: Conclusion
- V.2 Chapter 2
- Solutions for Current
Men's thought is the root cause of their
actions. Their wrong thoughts condition wrong actions which cause troubles and crises in
individuals' mind and in human society, then series of troubles and crises arise and
arise... The search for solutions for them become more and more complicated. However, with
a great determination, the writer believes, human beings can resolve all by changing the
direction of the operation of their thoughts.
V.2.1. SOLUTION FOR "THOUGHT
The most basic crisis of individuals and
society is the crisis of individual's thought itself.
From the old days men's thought has been
regarded as the measure of existing things: It gives value to everything. It has been used
as the crucial means for the search for truth and happiness. But, it is this which creates
an imaginative self for things, while they have in reality no self at all. From this,
men's thought creates a world of imaginative values full of contradictions and troubles.
The more human beings engage in this imaginative world, the more they sink in the darkness
of thought and in a crisiscalled "thought crisis".
With self-thought, people see things as
having a permanent self and grasp it. This seeing is called "inversion of view"
which hinders their mind from reality itself. So, the way to resolve the above crisis is
coming out of their "inversion of view" or coming into "right view"
which sees the truth of Dependent Origination existing in everything. In seeing this,
people come to realize that: self-thought is empty; desire is coming from self-thought;
the phenomenal world of selfness is empty; and desire, ill-will or illusion relating to
that world also is empty: they become free from the bondage of them. This is solution for
"thought-crisis" people are expecting.
No mystery exists in men's desire,
suffering or happiness, etc. except their self-thought. The extinction of self-thought is
the extinction of "thought crisis" indeed.
V.2.1. SOLUTION FOR
Self-thought also causes another crisis:
from it, desire for things arises and causes troubles in man's mind as the author
discussed in (II.1.2) of this work. A human being exits in life as a thirsty man in the
open sea drinking salty water. The more he drinks, the more he becomes thirsty and wants
to drink again. Drinking salty water is not the solution for the thirsty man. It is the
same for a man in life: desiring for senses and things is not the solution for his
suffering. This is called "desire crisis", or the "inversion of mind".
Falling into that "inversion",
people often do not have any choice other than continuing desiring: their desirebecomes so
strong that it is understood as the real meaning of life, therefore they see no way out.
The Buddhist doctrine of Dependent Origination (PaticcasamuppÓda), of the five aggregates
(PancakkhandhÓ), and of the Four Noble Truths (CattÓri AryasaccÓni) say the same thing:
"desire is the cause of suffering", and the way out is the way of ceasing men's
desire as the author discussed in (IV.1.5) and (IV.2.1)
So, if self-thought ceases, "desire
crisis" ceases; if non-self thought operates, "desire crisis" will come to
destruction. This is the solution for "desire crisis".
In addition to the above crises, some
other crises are present by the presence of self-thought as showed next.
V.2.1. SOLUTION FOR "HEART
Self-thought tends to give a permanent
nature to every existing thing. To the love for parents, it gives a name called
"filial piety", and defines it as duties done by a daughter or son toward
her/his parents. If these duties are not performed by her/him, she/he does not deserve
being a human being. Such is the meaning of "filial piety" suggested by
To the love for a country, it gives
another name called "loyalty", and defines it as duties done by a citizen for
her/his country or her/his King. If these duties are not realized by her/him, she/he is
understood as "unfaithful citizen" who does not deserve being in life. Such is
the sense of "loyalty" suggested by Confucianists.
To the love for a sweatheart, it gives a
name called"Love", and defines it as an intimate relationship which requires
some duties done for each other. If either a husband or wife is unfaithful to the other by
any reason, she or he is known as the evil one who does not deserve to exist in life. Such
is the meaning given to "Love" by Confucianists.
However, life is very complicated, people
sometimes meet with situations in which they can do their duty either for their parents,
or for their country/king, or just for their husband/wife; in these cases they will be
either "unfilial", or "unfaithful", or "unloyal" and will be
too suffering to make a choice, and too suffering to survive. These are tragedic cases
caused by the conception of "filiality", of "loyalty" and of
"faithfulness" created by self-thought.
So, in those cases - many cases happened
in the history of the Chinese and Vietnamese the story of "Le Cid" in French
literature also is a typical one - people should follow the call of their beautiful heart,
but not the call of imaginative conceptions. No choice deserves to be made here, because
it actually is full of tears. This is called a "heart crisis" caused by
With regard to non-self thought,
"filiality", "loyalty" or "love" is conditioned and
selfless; it must be redefined in an "open sense" how to be very human and very
helpful to individuals and their happiness in the present.
In addition to the above cases, some
customs, some social laws, or some disciplines in schools which may bring tears to men
should be revaluated too for happiness ofindividuals as human beings.
V.2.1. SOLUTION FOR "EMOTIONAL
"Heart crisis" mentioned above
is caused by reasons outside of man. There exists another aspect of "heart
crisis" caused by reasons inside of man, by sentimental habitude which is
called"emotional crisis". This crisis operates in the following manner:
- The current culture created by self-thought strongly
influences men's mind: thinking, sensing, feeling,... It becomes so intimate to men that
it is regarded as reality: people cannot abandon it, or part of it, even when they do
realize it is wrong, or it is suffering, and do realize that there is a better way of life
led by non-self thought. This event is known as an "emotional inversion" or
- All values created by that culture also become very
close to men although they may bring tears to them very often because of their inversive
qualities. But people prefer being with them to being with the new.
- The old way of education is imperfect, but it's very
difficult for people to think of a new way and to realize a new way. This happens owing to
men's "emotional inversion" etc.
- In the case of a religious a non-Buddhist man, even when
he realizes the truth of life, which is different from what he has believed in, he cannot
leave his belief for that truth: this also means "emotional inversion".
The above "emotional crisis"
seems simple but really is a dangerous hindrance of one's mind. The solution for it must
be the practising again and again one's regard of wisdom to have new emotion replacing the
V.2.1. SOLUTION FOR "MORALITY
Morality is also a value of life created
by man's thinking or self-thought. It is understood as the "should do's'' and the
"should not do's" for an individual, for his family, community and country which
really are the production of man's thinking. So, when "thought crisis" appears,
"morality crisis" comes into existence.
"Heart crisis" as mentioned is
something of morality, something relating to morality; when "heart crisis" is
present, "morality crisis" must exist.
In another aspect of human society,
morality is known as the relationship among human beings in a society; when the sphere of
economy is developed fast, that relationship must be changed out of one's mind. It is the
same, when the policy, or the sphere of politics, in a society is changed, the
relationship among men cannot remain as what it is. This causes a "morality
If people follow Lord Buddha's teachings
on the Eightfold Noble Paths, and consider "morals group" (including right
speech, right action and right livelihood) as morality on life, there will never be any
"morality crisis" regardless of the change of life. This is a right solution for
Morals group is a way of life wearing no
label. It does not have any meaning of any religion at all, so itmay be applied in schools
for students without any discrimination.
Is it right time for education to accept
"morals group" as morality of modern schools ?
V.2.1. SOLUTION FOR "ENVIRONMENTAL
Environmental crisis is a hot problem
people over the world are concerned much about.
As the author mentioned in (II.2.3),
environmental crisis is environmental pollutions caused by ionising radiation, nuclear
fission, natural dusts, forest fires, transportation, incineration and other minor
sources. This is the result of the fast industrial development, as said in the beginning
of this work, which is very harmful; it also is the result of the lack of responsibility
toward environment of people which may bring mass-destruction to human beings in a very
near future. So the protection of environment should be done as early as possible. For
protection, a philosophy and a way of education for environment are needed to arrange lots
of things as follows:
Educating men to recognize the close
relationship between human beings and nature by the doctrine of Dependent Origination
or/and the five aggregates, so that they themselves may voluntarily protect environment.
Explaining to men the terrible dangers
caused by pollutions.
Showing that men's desire for advantages
and powerscan cause suffering to people.
Suggesting what to do for environmental
Such a philosophy and education, as the
author has displayed through out this work, may be found from the doctrine of Dependent
Origination and/or the five aggregates. This is solution for "environmental
crisis" and for the safety of life on earth.
V.2.1. SOLUTION FOR "EDUCATIONAL
It is very evident that all the above
crises are present because of the presence of a cause called "educational
If education is not based on a right
concept of personality created by a regard of wisdom, it will lead to a wrong course of
transferring empty knowledges and unsuitable things of education to students, and will
bring sufferings to life. Dominated by self-thought and self-perception, all standards of
value in this education can only create an imaginative world for men to live, but not
reality itself. What can people expect from this world if not a fateful loss of hope ?
What can people expect from economy, politics, competition,..., together with desires,
ill-will, illusion, hatred, etc. if not building up on Earth a colossal market for goods,
weapons of mass destruction, etc. bringing harms and fears ?
If education is based on non-self thought
regarding a man as a compounded thing of depend Origination or the five aggregates, but
not an entity, education will find a right way for "what to educate" and
"how to educate" men: the role of education then is helping persons see what
they really are, what the world really is, and get rid of all causes of troubles and
sufferings from them for happiness in the here-and-now. This is a positive solution for
The above are current crises of human
society and solutions for them
The history of human kind shows that
self-thought of dualism has dominated human culture on Earth over thirty centuries, but
the suffering of birth, sickness, old-age, and death caused by men's attachment and
craving are still there, contradictions, fights, despairs, harms and fears of human beings
more and more increase without solution. What can human beings expect from that way of
Lord Buddha's teachings recorded in PÓli
pancanikÓya suggest a new way of thought of non-self which is different from the point of
view of other religions and philosophies. This way of thought does not regard a human
being or the world as an entity having a permanent substance, but as a conditioned and
conditioning thing, it may bring human beings happiness in the present and interesting
solutions if it is applied in actual life. These teachings may be used in modern schools
and universities as a major subject of a study branch of philosophy; educational
philosophy, educational psychology, educational psychotherapy, or personality theory. Why
not? -This way of thought, or regard to things, will helpeducation adjust personality
theories which are unreal, adjust the educational spirit of competition which harms the
spirit of co-operation; it will help students develop independent thought and
creativeness, and effectively deal with their problems and troubles in daily life; lastly,
it will suggest a standard of value based on happiness of individuals and the commonwealth
but not on morality, based on wisdom but not on imaginative knowledge, based on human love
and humanness but not on hatred or fighting; etc.
This is the reason why the author chose
the topic entitled "Concept of personality revealed through PancanikÓya" as his
Ph. D. thesis in Buddhist Studies. In choosing this topic, he realizes the difficulties in
presenting Buddhist doctrine as a way of life and education for worldly people, and the
difficulties in persuading others to accept that way. But, difficulty does not mean
impossibility, so he comes to persuade himself to proceed with this research work by his
belief in the condition of possibility. Let the work be tested, he thinks. What should
come will come.
(1) : E. F. Schumacher, "Small is Beautiful" An
Abacus book, Little Brown an Company (UK), Limited, London, 1993, p.77.
(2) : Ibid. p.78.
(3) : Introduction of "Small is Beautiful".. by the Publishing house.
(4) : Albert Einstein, "Ideas and Opinions" Crown Publishers Inc., 1954, 11th
impression, 1993, p.60.
(5) : Ibid., p.66.
(6) : Bertrand Russell, "Education and the Social Order" unwinpaperbacks,
London, Sydney Wellington, Printed in Great Britain by Cox & Wyman Ltd, Reading,
Reprinted 1988, p.21.